In Washington Post article, CIP researchers detail how misinformation can be amplified

May 8, 2020

In a Washington Post article, Kate Starbird, Emma Spiro and Jevin West, all principal investigators at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, shared new research that focused on how a widely shared Medium article that misrepresented the science related to COVID-19 social distancing was quickly amplified by influential Twitter accounts who spread “problematic beliefs” about the coronavirus.

“Our research team has studied how social media users, including those with initially small social networks, rapidly gain attention – and build potentially lasting audiences – during crises,” the CIP researchers wrote.

Studying how the Medium article in question, “Evidence over hysteria,” was shared, some common patterns with viral stories emerge, according to the researchers: “First, a small group of key influencers can amplify the spread of misleading information and boost the long-term profile of previously obscure authors. Second, social media platforms like Twitter interact quickly with other media like cable news; Fox News played a key role in spreading the story,” which Medium eventually removed. “Third, and most important, science is being politicized.”

Read the full story, “This covid-19 misinformation went viral. Here’s what we learned,” at The Washington Post.  

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CIP News & Insights | Oct. 8, 2020 Newsletter

This is a web version of the Center for an Informed Public’s News & Insights newsletter for July 2020, which was sent out on July 30. Check out our newsletter archives. Not signed up to received the CIP’s newsletter? Register here. Center for an Informed...

Graph of tweets about the Greenville, Wisconsin mail-dumping incident